11/25/11 — Shoppers hit the stores

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Shoppers hit the stores

By Kelly Corbett, Gary Popp, Ty Johnson and Steve Herring
Published in News on November 25, 2011 1:46 PM

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Allison Carter

Carola Wilde waits in line outside of Target on Thursday night. She was one of the first 30 people allowed into the store when it opened at midnight.

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Allison Carter

Tony Topicz, left, sits in a shopping cart with a Christmas tree as Nick Holguin talks to him during Black Friday at Target. Holguin was getting a Christmas tree for his wife.

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Debbie Beasley, Beverly Garris and Ashley Garris took advantage of Black Friday deals at Belk in Berkeley Mall shortly after 3 a.m. this morning. Hundreds of people were waiting in line for the store to open.

Shoppers began arriving at Target on Thursday afternoon about 3:30 p.m. and steadily grew until the line wrapped around the back of the building by the time the store opened its doors at midnight.

The traditional Black Friday shopping frenzy got an early start this year as a number of stores opened Thursday night.

Kim Ordiway and her son, John Ordiway, were the first in line. They were bundled in a blanket, as were many other anxious shoppers.

"I've done it before, but never for this long," Mrs. Ordiway said. "At this point in time, I just want one of everything and that's it."

She said they primarily came for a TV and a Kinect.

The $298 46-inch Westinghouse television was one of the most sought after items of the night, along with the PlayStation3, Kinect and iPod Touch.

"He's buying his own Christmas present," Mrs. Ordiway said of her son. "I'm just here to support him."

Christina Page and her family were positioned behind the velvet rope marking the first 30 people to enter.

"We've made friends," she said. "I'm not bitter."

She said she has been a Black Friday shopper for the past 15 years.

"It's more fun when you haven't been here for five hours," she said.

Many shoppers brought back-up so they would be able to split up and retrieve multiple items.

Lisa Prairie was accompanied by her daughter, Julia Prairie, and neighbor, Ashton Tygart.

"The strategy is, we all have the same list of five things," Ms. Prairie said. "Divide and conquer. ... Another strategy is don't get a cart if you're not getting anything big."

Red carts filled with TV's could be found throughout the store.

While many shoppers were purchasing electronics, there were those with only a few household items. Katie Hatfield canvassed the store with her brother, James Hatfield, who purchased a PlayStation 3.

"I am a poor college student and the towels were $2 so that's why I came," she said. "I've never been able to do Black Friday shopping so this is my first time. It was not as intense as I thought so that was good."

Electronics was king at the Spence Avenue Walmart when the clock struck midnight, as prices dropped dramatically on televisions, laptops, cell phones, GPS units and other tech favorites.

Employees stationed around the mega retailer handed out a limited number of tickets on a first-come, first-serve basis, guaranteeing the lucky customers discounted prices on specific items.

Jay Fink of Pikeville stood in a long line near the store's pharmacy holding a ticket for a laptop, discounted nearly $100 just minutes earlier.

Fink said he had been watching market prices of laptops for six months and holding out for this sale.

"I have been waiting and waiting for Black Friday," he said.

His only complaint was that the sale appeared to be a bit disorganized.

"I started out in electronics, then I was sent to (home and garden), then a person in paint sent me to cosmetics," he said. "And that is where I got my ticket for the laptop."

While Fink was on a solo adventure, others made a family affair out of the experience.

Veteran shoppers Cheri Clay and sister, Melanie Briggs were with their mother, Chris Hatchell.

"We do this every year," Ms. Clay said. "It is a tradition."

The women said they arrived at the retailer about 10:15 p.m., nearly two hours before the electronics officially went on sale.

Their shopping cart contained a Blu-Ray player priced at $49 and a 32-inch flatscreen TV discounted to $188.

Even though it was past midnight, the women said they had just begun their marathon shopping spree.

"After this, we are going back to sleep for a few hours, then we are out again to the mall and Target," Ms. Clay said.

The women offered a few pointers to less experienced shoppers, including to check out the store's website, which told where tickets were being handed out for specific items, before making the trip.

Ms. Briggs also provided wisdom for those finding themselves among the throngs of bargain hunters during the holiday season.

"Be nice," she said. "And, be patient."

At Berkeley Mall, where openings among the stores were staggered, some lines wound around the stores while others didn't materialize until just before they opened.

Maygan Stevens, 18, made sure she was first in line to buy some of Belk's $20 boots by arriving at the store's front door at 9 p.m. -- six hours ahead of the advertised 3 a.m. opening.

"I need to get some boots because these aren't insulated," she said, looking down at her current shoes and noting the near-freezing conditions.

She wasn't the only one with that goal. At the other end of the line, Tanya Moore had her eyes on the same prize.

"We're here for the boots," she said, as friends Djimon Ward and Towanda Bass flanked her in line.

Some weren't as easily enticed to leave the comfort of their cars. Ashley Howard said she was able to wait in her vehicle outside JCPenney until about 2:30.

Ms. Howard, who was shopping with her mother, Dianne, said the line didn't form until an associate came to the store's main entrance to unlock the inside door and they managed to be the first ones in.

"We've been scoping out the parking lot since 1:30 a.m.," she said, noting that they made stops at Target and Rue 21, but long lines ultimately led them to the mall. "We racked up here last year."

They led a group of about 30 gathered at the front gate, with a similar amount of people queued at the catalog entrance, but, when the doors opened, scores more emerged from cars across the parking lot to invade the store. For many, the first stop was near the shoe department, where free snow globes were given to early arrivals.

Jacques Hodges and his girlfriend Shakema Hobbs tried their luck at Sears, having survived a "hectic" experience at Walmart. After missing out on the television deal they wanted at Walmart, they took no chances and headed to the door of Sears by 2:30 a.m. to claim the first spot in line -- an hour-and-a-half before the store was scheduled to open.

It paid off, as a short while later the two exited the store with their low-priced 32-inch TV.

Ron Andrews and his son, Joseph, of Clinton were among a group of five men waiting in line for the 50-inch screen TVs that went on sale at midnight at the Mount Olive Walmart. They had set up canvas folding chairs that they joked they were "renting to buy."

"They sold us on these chairs, too," said Chris Pittman of Spivey's Corner.

Andrews said he came to Mount Olive because the Clinton store normally only had two TVs in "the whole store." He said he did not know how many the Mount Olive store had, but that he had been told that if a person waiting in line received a number, "you got a TV."

It was Andrews' first time participating in the Black Friday event, but he said the savings and camaraderie made it worth the trip.

"We're just making the best of the bad situation," Andrews said. "You see people standing up all up and down the aisle. If you are going to be standing in the aisles for two or three hours you might as well be comfortable."

"If nothing else we've made a lot of new friends," Pittman said.

At nearly 11 p.m., Wendy Frederick and her friend, Keisha Gore, departed the store with two shopping carts filled with toys.

"Them grandchildren, I had to get the sales," Ms. Frederick said. "The economy is bad. I have got me a Hot Wheels, a walking doll, basketball goal, a Jeep and some odds and ends for the smallest grandchildren. I had been out here ever since 8 o'clock. We saw a real good fight. They were fighting over the Hot Wheels."

The bargains made the trip worthwhile, she said, but the down side was the short supply.

"We wanted a trampoline, but they only had four," she said. "I probably should've been here at 6."